December 11, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
Around 8:00 a.m. a large-scale deck barge for storing soil for use in land reclamation work entered Oura Bay in Henoko, Nago City where Futenma Replacement Facility construction is moving forward. The deck barge was led to the bay by a tugboat, in the direction of Sedake, Nago City.
It is possible for the deck barge to continue depositing soil, without interruption, from an installed position. This is meant to speed up land reclamation work on the Henoko side of Cape Henoko.
The barge is 141 meters long and 36 meters wide. The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) calls it a “deck barge”, and as much as 9,000 cubic meters of soil can be loaded upon it. Up to this point cargo ships carrying soil have been making repeated round trips stopping at Awa in Nago City, Shiokawa in Motobu Town, and then Oura Bay in Henoko. It is possible for the barge sit in Oura Bay holding several cargo ships’ loads worth of soil, making it possible to continue land reclamation work even on days when cargo ships carrying soil cannot enter the bay.
The plan is for the barge to lower an anchor in order to stay consistently anchored in the bay. In the past, the anchors for the silt curtains caused damage to the seafloor and coral when moved by stong winds. At the Environmental Oversight Committee meeting on November 17, the ODB announced changes to unloading methods. It appears that due to the installation of the barge and remodeling of the seawalls, it is likely there will be increased air pollutant emissions compared to current circumstances.
On November 30, the barge was installed outside of the seawall such that two cargo ships were able to come alongside the barge. In accordance with arranged preparations, the plan is to set similar barges at other seawalls.